Saturday, November 29, 2008

Explain this then would you

OK. You're driving your car down the street at 45 miles per hour and a tree jumps out in front of you - hey, it happens - if you're NOT wearing a seat belt, you're toast (you might be toast even if you ARE wearing a seat belt). Almost everything in your car IS toast as it slams into you, the dash or anything that stops it from its headlong forward rush.

Almost everything that is.

Why don't you see flies smashed on the windshields of car wrecks in junk yards? Do flies not only fly fast, but also think fast enough to say to themselves in flyeeze, "Oh, shit, that tree's jumping in front of us, FLY BACKWARD, FLY BACKWARD!" WHAMMMMM! "Whew. That was a close one. Hey, what's everybody doing smooshed against the windshield?"

Go on. Go to the junk yard and look at the wrecked cars. And if the guy with "Bob" on his shirt asks you just what in the "heck yur doin'," I dare you to tell him. Oh please, please, please, please tell him. And then let me know what he does or says.

Do normal people think about things like this?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Halloween Snowball from Hell

Our guests in their clever 1940's costumes enjoy a little radio-active cake. Notice the matching, atomic hat? Cool.

First, let me explain I am appalled that we are the only country to have actually dropped atomic weapons on another country. Two, not just one. I wasn't around back then so, of course, don't understand the sentiment involved. It's just wrong.

But on to my Halloween atomic bomb story.

It was Halloween, otherwise, it would just be your plain old atomic bomb story. We knew how to throw Halloween parties. We had an actual hearse in the front yard, a coffin hanging from the hearse, etc. None of this cardboard cutout stuff, mind you, the real deal death wagon and box.

Really cool costumes too. The friends we hung with were almost all into science fiction conventions and costuming. Not the Spock ear crap, but intricate, medieval weapons, armor, or fantasy boots, clothing, etc. Good costumes. Weird stuff, but good costumes. Made even better after about 2 or 30 drinks.

And as with most of my pre-recovery parties, there was far more booze than pretzels.

A friend of ours had invented a strange Halloween concoction he called "Strange Brew" after the infamous Cream song. And strange it was. It had ALL the white liquors in it. Pineapple juice, lime sherbet, Sprite and the crowning glory - chunks of dry ice. And as Engineer Scott used to say, "It's green, Captain!"

Now, if you swallow a big chunk of it, dry ice will PROBABLY screw you up, if not kill you. The Brew Master was pretty careful with it though. He would put it in one tennis ball size chunk at a time for a couple of hours before the party. He prepared the "Brew" in a 5 gallon industrial paint can festooned with biohazard symbols and warnings. But what made Strange Brew a legacy throughout sci-fi-dom in the Midwest was the constant stream of steam it put off that trailed over the lip of the can on all sides, down the can and across the floor. Like a scene from Swamp Thing. When we made Brew in our room at sci-fi conventions, there was no need to advertise the fact that we were having a party, the steam trailing into and down the hotel hall was advertising enough. The fans POURED into our room. They loved us.

But this particular evening, we're in my house on Chippewa. The lights are low. The Brew is flowing. The costumes are great. The neighbors are pissed. And oh yeah, forgot to tell you one important thing, this particular batch of Brew has been prepared in a large cast iron witch's cauldron in the middle of my living room. Hey, we broke tradition ONE time for the sake of authenticity.

So anyway, the party is in FULL swing, and the Brew-Master discovers we have a 10 pound block of dry ice left, but not much Brew. So we decide to WOW the crowd with home-made pyrotechnics.


I boil a couple gallons of water.

He puts the 10 pound block of dry ice in the cauldron.

We call all the guests around to watch as the Halloween Ice Follies begin. The anticipation builds. Ooooooo ...!!!

We didn't plan on what happened.

When the boiling water hit the giant, 10 pound Snowball from Hell, it got pissed. REAL pissed.

Have you ever seen any of those Discovery Channel films where they show atomic explosions? The blast starts as a vertical column, goes straight up, but rises faster on the inside of the column than the outside so it curls under creating the infamous mushroom cloud? It did that. Ours was ceiling height, 8 foot tall, by about 12 feet in diameter. And with all the weird lighting we had in the house anyway, it was spectacular. It rose in a vertical column, curled over on itself and made an incredible mushroom cloud!

We stood there stunned. Actually friggin' stunned. It was the COOLEST thing I'd ever seen. Well not really, but pretty damn close. Silence. Utter silence. No one expected it to be that incredible. We're talking Hollywood shit! Then we all started clapping (those guests wearing fur animal hands began thumping).

But the Snowball from Hell wasn't done.

Next, it went into exact reverse.

Silence again as we watched.

The mushroom cloud sucked back in on itself and collapsed back into the cauldron. Then it spilled across the floor in all directions.

And that's when all the coughing and dizziness started.

Every guest in the house RAN gagging from the approaching cloud like a scene from the movie The Fog. We HAD to get outside because the mushroom cloud had sucked the oxygen out of the house. We were passing out. Serves us right.

So there we stood in the front yard, bloody nurses, ghouls, warriors, pirates, all coughing and hacking next to a hearse. My wife, the Brew-Master and I waited a bit, aired out the house and we allowed everyone to return. But the party just didn't have the same zing as it did during the explosion.

At least we didn't get arrested. Interesting considering the Mayor was my next door neighbor. Once again, true story.


Metamorphosis 3

Sorry, I just can't leave this alone.